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Will Education benefit from the King’s Discussion Papers?
Basel Saliba
2015/05/02

The King’s initiative in setting up a national committee for human resources development has given hope, direction and momentum to the goal of reforming education in Jordan.

Like any developmental effort, it is important to make use of the previous accomplishments. The previous discussion papers by his Majesty the King have some direct signals to education.  In addition, these papers point to democratic values which we want for Jordan and the bright future we wish for it.  It is important that we pay attention to these values when we set out to work on the education plans. Education, as we all know, is an important instrument for influencing any society and shaping its culture at an early stage.

 

“Respect for all fellow citizens is the essence of our unity” (First Paper). Within education, this would mean that the image and role of women of all sectors and roles must be represented, including being a mother and/or a worker.  The culture of Jordanians and their diversity of beliefs, thoughts, and origins must be included since Jordanians are not all one color. Activating the principle of the others’ opinion in the educational process requires that this opinion is reflected fairly in quotations, explanations, stories of civilizations and examples of acts of heroism. In addition, such diversity should also be present in scientific sources, events and credits. This allows Jordanian students to view such diversity and provides them with the pluralistic resources needed to have an enriching debate in class and all educational activities.

 

“Crafting a modern democratic society will be the product of our learning and developing together over time” (Second Paper). People’s first democratic experiences begin at home and in school. Therefore, the educational system must work on creating a democratic society, planting the values of citizenship, as well as educating students on the issues of human rights and the rule of law. Students should not only read about these values, but also practice them and live them continuously. These values should be present in the class discussions, the way representatives are chosen, how instructions are given and how decisions are made.

 

We need to preserve the values of “national unity, pluralism, openness, tolerance and moderation” (Third Paper). There is a need, in all we do and educate, that we keep and preserve our Jordanian national unity as well as our pluralism. At the same time, we need to plant the seeds of openness to others inside and outside Jordan. Our students need to grow up properly evaluating themselves without the feelings of inferiority or false superiority. No sector of society should rise over the other based on origin, social status or opinion. We should seek to raise a generation that respects other cultures, carefully deciding which stories to choose from the past and present civilizations. Ultimately, our goal is to benefit from the products and knowledge of others and to build bridges of trust with all.

 

We also need to work on “enrooting a democratic culture across society” (Fourth Paper). To achieve that, it is necessary that civil society and educational sector work on building a culture of dialogue when discussing current challenges or debating controversial issues or exercising elections for school parliaments. Monitoring tools and guidelines need to be implemented to protect the educational system from violations of democratic values, including citizenship and equality. Transparent publication of these processes and results enables all Jordanians to realize that these values are protected by law.

 

Finally, there is a need to embrace these values and practices “by enrooting them into our value system, education and laws through awareness campaigns and curricula” (Fifth Paper). Obviously, this responsibility will not succeed without strategic and integrated efforts. Competent and empowered individuals who believe and practice these values need to monitor and influence this entire educational path. Only this will ensure that we achieve what our society wants and our country deserves.

 

Basel Saliba: Senior expert in Leadership Development, Capacity Building and Organizational Excellence.

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